Customer Review

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inpressive and enjoyable, 25 Oct 2010
This review is from: Bach: Cantatas Vol.12 (Cantatas For 22/ 23 Sunday After Trinity) (Audio CD)
I have been collecting more or less the entire Suzuki series, mostly for cost reasons, but have also been collecting some of the John Eliot Gardiner "pilgrimage" albums, including this one. This is because, in general, there are some occasions when Suzuki doesn't quite hit the mark and Gardiner definitely does. It wotks the other way too. I also own a CD of Bach arias performed by Bostridge and Biondi, which cover one of the cantatas on this album (no. 55) and also an aria from another cantata on this album (No 139)

On the whole I found these performances both impressive and enjoyable. For me the critical tests for performances of Bach cantatas are whether the performance conveys the true stature of the music, and also whether it engages me emotionally. For by far the most part I think the performances convincingly pass these tests.

I want to mention a few aspects,both positive and negative that particularly struck me-first the positive (1)-(3):

(1) I thought that the overall standard of the solo singing was good. The soloist who stood out most for me me was the baritone Peter Harvey, who has quite a lot to do here. His singing was usually both beautiful and affecting. His lower register isn't very strong, but this mostly didn't seem to matter.

(2) I preferred James Gilchrist/Gardiner's performance of cantata no. 55 to Bostridge/Biondi's. This is largely for reasons unconnected with the singing- in the former performance the tempo of the first aria is too quick and not suited to the character of the music. Also I think the obbligato in the second aria is more affecting when performed with a flute (as under Gardiner) rather than with a violin (Biondi), despite the variable intonation of a baroque flute. I also don't think that James Gilchrist's singing in this cantata, as a whole, is inferior to Bostridge's. I thought Gilchrist's singing of the second aria was outstanding.

(3) As has been noted, this album contains the celebrated cantata no. 140 ("Wachet Auf"). i have been familiar with this for many many years and still think this one of Bach's greatest works. The performance does the work justice and sounds vibrant and fresh, inspite of the fact that Gardiner and the performers must be very familar with it. I found the second duet a bit less engaging tban the rest (perhaps because it didn't seem to suit Peter Harvey's voice so well).

(4) The first movements of cantatas 60 and 89 were slightly lacking in intensity. I think this was down to the interpretative approach adopted by Gardiner, rather than deficiencies in the singing.

(5) in general I thought there was a slight over-emphasis on small points of detail (down to Gardiner again)-eg the dynamic contrasts on the first syllable of "alleluia" in the first chorus of cantata 140. However, I don't think one should give this aspect too much importance

(6) The first aria of cantata 139 sounded rather rushed as it also does as performed by Bostridge/Biondi. Bostridge's singing is definitely superior to Gardiner's tenor in this aria.

(7) I didn't particularly take to cantata 52 apart from the sinfonia (the opening to Brandenburg concerto no.1), which was performed with great verve. The rest of the work seemed musically rather insignificant compared with the other cantatas on the album, and the soprano used a bit too much vibrato for my taste.

In summary I would pose 2 questions: Is this album worth purchasing? Definitely yes-I would add that Gardiner has written some fascinating things in the liner notes about the works performed, which is a clear bonus. Secondly, on the strength of the works performed, is Gardiner clearly a superior Bach interpreter to Suzuki? My answer to this is no!

Antony Ornstin
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Dec 2010 17:12:03 GMT
Simon Clarke says:
Antony---Many thanks --a first class review.
Cheers
Simon

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Dec 2010 18:14:17 GMT
Simon-Thank you so much for your very kind words. Much appreciated. Best wishes, Antony
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

4.7 out of 5 stars (3 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: London

Top Reviewer Ranking: 157,338